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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 21 October 2010) . . Page.. 4877 ..


Minister, what is being done to ensure that these and existing step-up, step-down facilities and services are made available to people who are homeless?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Ms Bresnan for the question. We have been working with the non-government sector. In fact, there was a meeting held about a week ago, maybe two weeks ago, around the allocation of these resources, a pre-tender meeting, before the tender was advertised on the weekend. I have raised the issue around supporting people with a mental illness who are homeless within our service system. In fact, Minister Burch and I have a meeting, I think on Monday, around better responding to and meeting the needs of people who are homeless across the public housing system and through Mental Health ACT.

I think there are some genuine difficulties in how we provide support to people who are homeless with complex mental health issues. I know from reading a number of the histories of clients of Mental Health ACT just how hard it is to always be in a position to provide services to people who might be homeless.

I did go out and visit last week a service run at Oaks Estate by St Vinnies, who are providing support to 26 men who have been at risk of homelessness leaving the Alexander Maconochie Centre or the PSU and providing support in that housing setting with great success. This has been funded through Mental Health ACT with a relatively modest grant of around $250,000 to support those tenancies. It is working very well. I had a discussion with Health about that on Monday post my visit about whether there are additional opportunities to provide similar types of support to people who are at risk of homelessness because of their mental illness.

We are working pretty hard to meet the needs of this particular population group, but I would also say that it is very hard to say that we would always be able to meet the needs of this population group, and sometimes that comes down to individual client choice.

Ms Bresnan: On a point of order, Mr Speaker, I do appreciate the minister giving me the background information here, but my specific question was about access for people who have a mental illness and are homeless to the step-up, step-down facilities.

MS GALLAGHER: Well, they are not going to be ruled out of the services. There are two services; one is outreach into the home, so, in a sense, that does preclude people who do not have a home, because it is about maintaining a tenancy. The other service is around targeting young adults in the 18 to 25-year age group. But what I am trying to explain to you is maybe a step-up, step-down facility is not actually going to meet the needs of people who are homeless, because it is predicated on that consumer having somewhere to either stay—a house—and support being provided so they do not end up in the psychiatric unit or a place to go after they are coming out of a psychiatric unit.

What I am trying to say is that the model like the St Vinnies model, which is actually finding accommodation and providing support into that accommodation and trying to sustain a longer term tenancy is perhaps a more appropriate model for people who do


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